Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Happy St George's Day!

Today is St George's Day, a day for the English! It does sadden me slightly that there doesn't seem to be much English pride about, except for when the football is on. Perhaps it's just me and my circle of friends... anyhow. Every year, some of my uni friends get together for a St George's Day BBQ. Lots of fun is had, lots of meat cooked and eaten, and patriotic songs played. It's good fun. After making cupcakes for St Patrick's Day, I wanted to do something special for St George's Day. Plus the uni guys love when I bake.

I had an idea for a cake, and it kept me awake one night. It involved cooking 5 layers, then chopping and swapping. Surely there was a simpler way to do it. Then it clicked - I could do it using 3 layers. No, 2 layers would be enough! And a dragon... there should be a dragon.

With the cake idea floating around in my head, I thought I'd have plenty of time before the BBQ to make it. My plan was to go and make it at my mums - she has a fancy Kitchen Aid, and a dishwasher. Alas, time disappeared, as it so often does. It was the morning of the BBQ and I was still debating whether or not to bake. I went out to the shops, and came back with eggs. The bake was on!

Here's the finished cake (and yes, even though two people called it a dinosaur, it's most definitely a dragon. Wings are difficult to make out of icing!)

At first glance, you wonder what amazing idea kept me up all night, don't you? It looks like a normal, everday cake (with shiny red sprinkles). But wait! Look what appears when it's cut open! 

Yep, the English flag. I'm so glad it turned out well! Plus it tasted pretty nice. Time constraints meant that I had to use shop bought icing, and I did have to go to the shops a second time after buying eggs as I ran out of butter. Lesson learnt - be more prepared. I've already been asked to make one when England have a football match, hopefully that will turn out slightly better!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

New projects on the horizon...

I've been hard at work trying to finish off the second sock, and it's finally done! I forgot to turn the sock the right way round before closing the toe, so the second sock looks a bit funny, but for my first pair of socks, I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out.

One of my oldest friends came around at the weekend, with some exciting news. She's pregnant! She's excited, her husband's excited, and I'm excited for them. They also made my day, asking me to knit for the little one, which I thought was nice of them. They were saying how they'd love a knitted blanket, and I asked if they'd considered a crocheted blanket. I showed them one I made ages ago with some green/blue variagated baby yarn, bordered with yellow and white sparkly yarn, which they loved. As it was something I'd made with no particular purpose in mind (it's not big enough for an adult blanket, and I kept meaning to add to it but kept getting distracted) and they said it was a perfect size for a baby, I insisted they took it home with them.

Now that I've finished my socks, what should I make next? I did buuy some (more) wool last week, with a project in mind, but I fancied doing something a little bit smaller first (and haven't decided what baby items to make for my friend yet). A while ago, I stumbled across a blog called Lattes and Llamas, who are doing a Geek A Long double knitted blanket to raise awareness of Child's Play (a charity also supported by the members of the Sprite Stitch forum). The blocks they were making looked good, and I thought I'd give double knitting a try, using their handy video tutorial to make a bookmark with hearts.
Here's the finished piece! (without the ends sewn in, as I haven't got around to that yet)

You can't tell, but I took these photos within seconds of each other... I'm really happy with how this came out, and have begun my first square - a pirate skull in red and white. I'm hoping this project will help me to reduce my ever growing stash! It was a bit tricky to get the hang of double knitting, but now I've got it figured out it's getting easier.

Right, I'm off as the knitting group are doing a yarn review for a magazine in the pub tonight - and it's me that has the yarn and the information! Wish us luck. Hopefully next time I'll have a finished pirate square and my new project on the go!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Cake and Bake show

Sometimes I blog about the events/places I've been to and that's what I'm doing today!

I asked my mum if she wanted to go to the Manchester Cake and Bake show for her birthday, as she enjoys baking. The answer? Yes please! So off we went. I took the day off work, and we went to Manchester Central. I'd been there in the past (University fairs) and didn't remember it being all that big (I think I've been spoilt by visiting super huge European fairs with work). It opened at 11, and there were lots of people there at 11.20 on their way in. They had a huuuuuge walk around the side of the building to get in (I think they were expecting much larger queues over the weekend) but it was fantastic once we were inside, very roomy and not too crowded.

We spent the day wandering around, and watched a few demonstrations on the Dr Oetker stand, which has given me lots of ideas! We'd also booked seats for a couple of the professional shows - watching Rosemary Shrager cook an apple and a chocolate tart was a brilliant experience. She was hilarious, and my mum really enjoyed watching her cook, and also got a signed copy of her new book. Just to add - mum made one of the tarts from her new book, chocolate and raspberry, and it was delicious! We also watched Simon Rimmer making a lovely looking rabbit pie, and a vegetarian filo pie. The day wasn't just about pastry though!

There was cake. lots and lots of cake, and lots to go with cake as well. Here are a few that I loved and took photos of, but it is only a few - I'd probably break the internet putting up pics of all the cakes!

I think one of the highlights was watching the elephant cake being decorated. The Cakebomb team were fantastic, they were happy to answer questions and were brilliant to watch. I was amazed looking at pictures of the elephant on the Sunday. Details can be found here
There was plenty to buy as well, and I came away with some lovely red, white and blue glitter... St Geroge's day is around the corner, and these could come in handy.
Would I go again? In a heartbeat. Which is great, as after making brandy snaps with the 2012 GBBO winner on stage, my mum won 2 tickets for the event in London! I left the event with lots of ideas, and now I'm off to see what comes of them!